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  • Writer's pictureAmy Friesen

Respite Care: What you need to know

Looking after someone who requires constant care and attention can weigh heavily on a caregiver. Being on call 24/7, while rewarding, can be exhausting. Over time, it can take a toll physically, mentally, and emotionally. Sometimes you just need a break.

Does this sound like your situation? If so, read on for some great information and helpful tips on how you can make time for yourself while also ensuring your loved one is safe and well cared for.

What is respite care?

Respite care is a broad term used to describe a short break. Many caregivers use respite care when they bring in someone else - a professional caregiver or another family caregiver, for example - to temporarily fill in while they step away from caring for their loved one for a short period of time.

Respite care comes in many forms and can be done by a multitude of different providers. Respite care can take place in the home, in an adult day-care centre, or even in a retirement home. Depending on the setting, respite care can range from a few hours to days and even weeks.

What does respite care in a retirement home look like?

Respite care in a retirement home means a senior temporarily moves into a retirement home for a period of time. They can participate in everything the home has to offer including activities, meals, and personal care. Respite stays are usually anywhere from one week to a few months, depending on the situation.

Rest assured, if you chose to, family members can visit and share a meal with their loved ones at any time during a respite stay.

Care in a retirement home respite stay

Families looking to book a respite suite in a retirement home are often looking for some amount of care for their loved one. Types of care differ from place to place, but usually care includes help with Activities of Daily Living such as

  • Bathing

  • Dressing

  • Medication management

  • Transferring

  • Personal grooming

What to know before a respite stay

Keep in mind that doing a respite stay in a retirement home does take a little initial set-up. As the retirement home is taking on the responsibility for this individual, they require a certain amount of medical information.

Many retirement homes ask for a physician's statement. This is a form filled out by the individual’s doctor that asks for information about past and current health concerns, contact info, and Power of Attorney. Retirement homes also require a recent chest x-ray to rule out tuberculosis.

Respite care costs in a retirement home

Respite stays vary in price and often boil down to a few aspects. How long is your loved one staying? How much care do they require? These stays are billed on a per diem basis billed in one lump sum. Daily rates range from $90 per day to $300 per day, depending on the complexity of care.

Booking a respite stay in a retirement home - original process

Respite stays can be booked in a few different ways. The original method is to identify the retirement homes in the area that you’re interested in, call the home to inquire about availability, set up a time for a tour, and book directly with the home.

To an exhausted caregiver, this process requires a lot of steps. It’s simply not doable for many because of the sheer amount of time and effort required in finding and chasing the homes to book the stay. As well, many caregivers have no prior knowledge of the retirement homes in their area, which makes the research part more difficult and confusing.

After the stay is booked, you will still need to get paperwork filled out and signed as well as get your loved one packed and to the home.

Booking a respite stay - new process

That being said, the new and improved process to book a respite stay reduces the total amount of time needed, which in turn reduces the amount of pressure and stress experienced by caregivers.

At it is now possible to see the availability and pricing in your area, with the touch of a button. This significantly reduces the research process and the overwhelming stress and worry associated with it. You should try it out!

Caregiver obstacles

Caregiving is a 24/7 job. Although many find it meaningful and positive, most still do need a break and a little “me time.” We often find that the main obstacle faced by caregivers is admitting they need a break and that they cannot continue to do it all, and all the time.

A break will not only help you as a caregiver to take care of yourself, but it may surprise you to know that it can also improve your relationship with the person you are caring for. By removing the friction that inevitably happens during caregiving, you and your loved one may be able to get on a more positive page.

Respite care often gives caregivers more energy and focus, so that when they return to caring for their loved ones, they are feeling refreshed.

Remember, you matter too. Caring for a loved one is a noble thing to do - just don’t lose yourself in the process. Respite care is a tool you can use to make valuable time for yourself. And by using the professional services of a helpful resource like, you can rest assured that everyone is cared for.

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